May 27, 2024  
Course Catalog 2018-2019 
Course Catalog 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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Ron Cheung, Chair and Professor of Economics
Margaret Brehm, Assistant Professor of Economics
Paul Brehm, Assistant Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies
Barbara J. Craig, Professor of Economics
Christopher Cotter,  Assistant Professor of Economics
John V. Duca, Danforth-Lewis Professor of Economics
Edward McKelvey, Visiting Professor of Economics
Paul Pahoresky, Visiting Instructor in Economics
Evan Kresch, Assistant Professor of Economics
Viplav Saini, Associate Professor of Economics
Martin Saavedra, Assistant Professor of Economics

Economics has been described as the study of the issues arising from the allocation of limited resources to meet society’s unlimited human wants. A major in economics provides the first stage for those interested in graduate work in economics or business. It also offers a good background for careers in law, journalism, government and international affairs, teaching, industrial relations, and public service. For up-to-date information on department faculty, the major, course offerings, visiting lecturers and special events, point your web browser go to

Advanced Placement.

The department does not give advanced placement credit. Students who have scored 4 or 5 on both AP microeconomics and macroeconomics or who believe they have covered the material in Economics 101 (Principles of Economics) through an International Baccalaureate program, may obtain permission from the department chair to bypass Economics 101.

Entry-Level Course Sequence Suggestions.

Principles of Economics (Economics 101) is a prerequisite for all further study in the department. Although it is possible to complete the major requirements even if Economics 101 is taken as late as the second semester of the sophomore year, we recommend that potential majors take Economics 101 in their first year.  We recommend, also, that potential majors take a 200-level applied course (numbered Economics 201-250), calculus and statistics by the end of their sophomore year. Core courses in intermediate theory and methodology (Economics 251, 253, and 255) should be completed no later than the end of the junior year.

Note: Statistics is a prerequisite for Economics 255; this may be satisfied by STAT 113 or STAT 114. Calculus I (MATH 133) is a prerequisite for almost all economics courses numbered 250 or higher; this may be satisfied through MATH 133, by AP Calculus or by taking a two semester sequence (MATH 131 and MATH 132).  If the AP score on calculus satisfies the Mathematics Department criteria for granting college credit in statistics or calculus, you will have satisfied the prerequisite for our courses and the calculus major requirement.

Students planning graduate work in economics, public policy or business are strongly encouraged to take as much work in mathematics as can reasonably fit into their schedules. A one year sequence in Calculus (Mathematics 133 and 134) and Econometrics (Economics 255) should be considered minimal preparation for graduate study in business or public policy. Students who plan to enter business directly after graduation also will find these courses desirable. Students considering graduate programs in economics are strongly encouraged to do the Mathematical Economics Concentration, which is described below.


A major in economics is defined as follows.

  1. A minimum of 8 full courses in economics including:
    1. Principles of Economics (ECON 101 or 102); 
    2. Three core courses in Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON 251), Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON 253), and Introduction to Econometrics (ECON 255); and
    3. Two upper level courses in economics: one at the 300-level, and one 400-level seminar.
  2. A minimum of 4 full courses in other social sciences and mathematics which must include statistics (STAT 113,114, 213 or 215) and Calculus (MATH 133) or their equivalents. 

Mathematical Economics Concentration. An economics major with a concentration in mathematics is defined as follows.

  • A minimum of 8 full courses in economics including:
    1. Principles of Economics (ECON 101 or 102); 
    2. Three core courses in Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON 251), Intermediate Microeconomics (253), and Introduction to Econometrics (ECON 255) as well as their prerequisites;
    3. At least one advanced theory or methods course chosen from Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 351), Microeconomic Theory (ECON 353), Advanced Econometrics (ECON 355) Advanced Microeconometrics (ECON 356) or Time Series Econometrics (ECON 357); and
    4. One 400-level, seminar in economics.
  1. A minimum of 4 full courses in mathematics and statistics including:
    1. Statistics (STAT 113, 114, 213, 215, 237 or 336)
    2. Multivariable Calculus (MATH 231); 
    3. Linear Algebra (MATH 232); and
    4. One advanced course in mathematics or statistics from the following list: 
      Foundations of Analysis (MATH 301), Optimization (MATH 331), Probability (MATH 335), Mathematical Statistics (STAT 336), Data Analysis (STAT 337), or Probability Models and Random Processes (MATH 338), or The Mathematics of Social Choice (MATH 342).

At least 5 of the minimum 8 full courses in economics required for all majors must be taken at Oberlin and must include at least two of the core courses in intermediate theory and methodology (ECON 251, 253, and 255).

Economics courses numbered 100 or below will count toward graduation but will not count for the economics major.  

Students must earn minimum grades of C- or P for all courses that apply toward the major.



The minor in Economics consists of at least 5 full courses in economics, Principles of Economics (ECON 101 or 102); at least two of the three core courses (ECON 251, 253, and 255); and one 300-level applied course. Note that most 300-level courses have a calculus prerequisite.


The department puts special emphasis on its Honors Program and ordinarily invites up to a quarter of its senior majors to participate. Invitations are extended toward the end of the junior year on the basis of general academic standing and work in the department up to that time. Interested students should consult with a member of the department.

Students wishing to qualify for admission to the Honors Program must take Economics 251 and 253 before the senior year. In addition, candidates for Honors must take Economics 255 by the fall of their senior year and are strongly urged to take it no later than their junior year.

Transfer of Credit

The awarding of transfer credit is at the discretion of the department chair. Students majoring or minoring in economics must take at least two of the core courses [ECON 251, 253 and 255] at Oberlin. Students should obtain preliminary approval of transfer credit in economics from the department chair prior to taking economics courses elsewhere if they want them to count towards the major or minor.

Winter Term

Members of the Economics Department will be available as sponsors of both on campus and off campus projects. Internships are available for economics majors at a number of government agencies and private firms. Students interested in careers in finance and consulting should contact the appropriate winter term program in the Office of Career Services. Details are at

Research Opportunities

Economics majors are eligible to work as Albert Rees research assistants for permanent and visiting faculty members in the Economics Department. Majors are also invited as juniors or seniors to apply for the Albert Rees Policy Fellowship. Recent Albert Rees Fellows have worked during Winter Term at the President’s Council of Economic Advisors in Washington, DC. Interested students should contact the department chair.

Introductory Economics

ECON 101 is the general introductory course and serves as a prerequisite for all applied and intermediate courses.

Intermediate Economic Theory and Methods

This sequence of courses ECON 251, ECON 253, and ECON 255 is designed to provide students with a solid foundation in economic theory and analysis. ECON 251 and ECON 253 may be taken in either order, but both should be completed prior to taking ECON 255.

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